English traditional songs and tunes from the Vale of White Horse played mainly on Melodeons and Fiddle.



The Vale of the White Horse gets its name from the ancient carving of the Uffington White Horse which gleams from the chalk cliffs of the Berkshire Downs. Chris Bartram and Keith Holloway grew up in the Vale, listening to, and absorbing, music from people who had in their turn learned from forebears reaching back to the early years of this century. Both men became musicians in blues, jazz, and rock, happily playing in these styles whilst not forgetting the old tunes of the Vale, As they grew more immersed in the folk revival and got together to play music, what more natural than to return to those earlier remembered tunes and songs? It shouldnt take courage to publish an album of traditional music as lively, zestful, and well played as this one - but it does you know! Why? Because this is not the latest red-hot Celtic collection, nor is it crossover that sits on more fences than it leaps. Nor is it fusion that softens the characteristics of the things it claims to fuse until they are blurred beyond recognition. And, finally, it does not feature a famous or heavily - hyped name. A recipe for disaster one might think, but not necessarily so, not so long as people vote with their ears and are prepared to take the album on its merits. What we have here is a programme of traditional music in southern English style, plus a few originals, solid and sociable, no fancy flourishes, ideal for lifting the spirits and causing the toes to tap. Add some good old countrymans songs sung with great good humour, and you've got the complete package. Roy Harris for The Living Tradition

Within This Hive We re All Alive
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Pop Steers Polkas
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Six Nights Drunk
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Shepherds Hey/The Squires Dance
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A Curious Race Has Come to Pass
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The Wantage Tram
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The Wantage Hornpipe
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Here Stop and Spend a Social Hour
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Two Takes the One
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Six Pretty Maids
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Tommy Make Room/Old Towler
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Before the Gods
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The White Horse Shepherd
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The Rifles
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Jockey to the Fair
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A Rose By Any Other Name
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The Prize Winning Hereford Bull
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Over the Hills to Newbury
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Butter
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The Cup That Cheers
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Folk on Tap

JPB

Not just music and songs, but philosophical verses, too, all delivered by an energetic duo whose friends have come along to add their two-pence worth. It is no criticism to say that this is one of those able local interest albums, performed by good local musicians who are without doubt the life and soul of their regional folk clubs and village halls.

As such, the album will have few national ambitions, and it is in excellent company, for there is a wealth of fine projects in this minor key adorning the folk club scene of this country, and a valuable asset

they are. They capture and preserve a priceless part of the social fabric of the country in a way that national albums do not. WildGoose has, as always, done its artists proud with an excellent, crisp

recording which deserves repeated playing. The squeezeboxes and various stringed instruments, and the vocals, are all vividly captured, and the music itself is a treasure-trove.


Sing Out

EB

The Vale, of the White Horse is south and a little bit west of Oxford, and is named after a large white horse carved into the chalky hillside. Bartram and Holloway have steeped themselves in the local musical traditions, and recorded a collection of some of the regions dance tunes, songs and texts. Their love of and respect for the repertoire is immediately evident. The recording has a cheery, relaxed ambience, as if a group of friends were sitting around swapping tunes. The performances include vocals, melodeon, and fiddle with the occasional addition of various other bowed and plucked strings, percussion and double reeds. One of the strong points of this recording is the clear, honest approach of the arrangements ? nothing too high tech or flashy to spoil the cozy mood. However, they could have eased up on the echo effect on some of the songs. The liner notes include reminiscences about how and where the music was learned.

Some of the dance tunes they picked up through their involvement with the Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers. A gorgeous version of Shepherds Hey, filled out with an extra fiddle part, is paired with the lively The Squires Dance with its strong resemblance to the Jenny Lind Polka. Later in the recording we hear the Abingdon version of Jockie To The Fair, featuring some powerful bass chords from the melodeon. The songs tend to be humorous, often with bawdy overtones. Six Nights Drunk recounts the story of a fellow who staggers home to find suspicious goings on, but is very nearly taken in by his wifes adulterous deceptions. You can almost see the poor fellow scratching his head in gin?soaked confusion, when confronted with such things as a pair of carpet slippers that look like hob?nailed boots, or a very large newborn babe with a face full of whiskers. The Two Takes The One is a convivial song with words that make little sense, but are easy to sing (probably a very useful trait for a drinking song). Another song celebrating the joys of a good drink is The White Horse Shepherd. It is sung to a mournful version of the tune known to many as Star The County Down. On first listening, one might think this was a tragic lament. In reality, the poor shepherd is bemoaning the fact that there is no ale upon the hill, where the stormy winds do blow. These days, England seems to be overrun with musicians anxious to play Irish, French, and even Cajun music instead of their own home grown styles. Thank goodness for Bartram and Holloway, who have the good sense to recognize the value of their local traditions.